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Act as we prepare for floods after long drought

A bus from St. Joseph's Seminary in Mwingi Town was swept away by floodwaters as it attempted to cross the drift along River Enziu on the Nguni - Nuu Road.

Is it raining where you are?

This is one of those questions that won’t miss in a conversation between two in different locations. It usually is likely to come from the one in the village where either they have planted and the rains have not come as expected, or they have been waiting for the rains to start so they can plant, but nothing substantial has happened.

This is April. By this time, many are usually weeding their crops, expecting harvest between June and August. But the long dry season has left many a farmer confused, and wondering what else to do. And this is becoming the norm, courtesy of climate change that has affected rain patterns.

Fields in many parts of the country have been ploughed ready for planting, but the risk of loss is high. Farmers are minimising the risk by planting on lesser land than they usually do, after burning their fingers once or twice in the recent years. This has a direct effect on the country’s food security in the next few months.

For those that planted, the African and fall armyworms are back. This has been reported in parts of Western, Nyanza and a few areas in Rift Valley. Hopefully, the pest is dealt with in good time.

And where does this leave the common mwananchi?

Already the cost of living is shooting higher than many can bear. Even as the government, in the budget read by Treasury CS Ukur Yatani, allocates millions of shillings to Agriculture, drought management and mitigation of the suffering by pastoralist communities, families in the ASAL regions have lost livelihood and are now staring at hunger every day if they are lucky to wake up. The effects of this prolonged drought, with some areas counting up to three years of no substantial rainfall, will be felt years later, as children miss out on crucial nutrition, while education is put on the back burner as people strive to survive.

Development and several aspects of the economy must also wait. It is a vicious cycle that needs intended disruption by the government or communities here will remain marginalized despite having devolution. Add this to the fact that up to now, counties are still begging for their allocation of the equitable fund for February and March from the national government.

And another problem is imminent. Since land has been left bare due to loss of vegetation as a result of the prolonged drought in many parts of the country, chances that we will transition from one disaster to another are high. Expect flooding as soon as the rains return. But we must not be rendered helpless in this whole issue. Relevant authorities must up their games to ensure we do not just have plastic solutions to the foreseen problems relating to climate change.

Even as we push for compensation and the globally sourced climate funds to go to the people and help mitigate this problem, action by the likes of Drought Management Authority and National Irrigation Authority and counties must be enhanced, and funded enough to help communities weather the harsh climatic conditions.